Ex-Con Artist Schools Chicago Seniors On Avoiding Scammers

Craig Dellimore
August 20, 2019 - 9:18 pm

Craig Dellimore/ WBBM

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Ex-con man Frank Abagnale, whose notorious exploits were depicted in Steven Spielberg's 2002 film "Catch Me If You Can," came to town Tuesday for an AARP presentation on how senior citizens can guard against scam artists and identity theft.

"Actually, millennials fall for more scams than seniors do. But seniors lose more money to those scams. So, they prey on those kind of people," Abagnale said.

The reformed scammer said there are two red flags in just about every scam. First, he explained, there’s a demand for money that's needed immediately. Second, he continued, they ask for personal information like your social security number, date of birth and where you bank.

This information shouldn't be shared with random strangers, warned Abagnale, who works as a consultant for the FBI where he teaches agents about scams. He also serves as an AARP Fraud Watch Network ambassador and co-hosts its weekly podcast "The Perfect Scam." 

From age 16 to about 21, Abagnale impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer, among others, and cashed millions in forged checks. Now 71, the con artist turned security consultant said what he did then is easier now thanks to technology. Abagnale said scammers can learn a lot about a person's personal and professional life by visiting their social media pages. For example, a scammer posing as a police officer could convince someone they're holding their grandson for a DUI violation by referencing information from his social media postings like his name, girlfriend's name and the type of car he drives.

The Spielberg film is based on Abagnales' 1980 memoir of the same name. His new book is called “Scam Me If You Can.”